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Color me confused

Posted by joeabbott on May 28, 2011

Search this blog for power supply and you’ll find entries from roughly 220 days ago when I blogged about a computer failure I’d had … and expected to have again. Well, that eventually appeared to have happened during this past week.

You see, when I built my computer some six years ago, I put a pretty powerful video card in it. Start up my computer on a picket line in a cold December and you’d have a dozen hands held over it as an ersatz burn barrel and you’d likely not hear a peep of complaint, as there’d be plenty of heat to go around. To avoid burning up my machine, I’d outfitted the unit with the requisite fans and a power supply to keep the whole thing ticking. Well, over the years I’d gone through three power supplies.

In each instance I replaced the “power brick” and moved on, however, the machine was so loud that I wasn’t able to comfortably leave my computer running. It was just annoying to hear it rumbling away all the time. But, I grew fatigued at having to wait for my computer to startup and envious of my wife’s completely silent Mac, so I left my machine running after last weekend.

And sometime mid-week I noticed my computer was suddenly silent, too. Curiously so.

I actuated the power button and, while the little LED on the front of the machine would light, the rest failed to respond. I was certain I’d blown another power supply.

So I talked about this with Suzy, mentioned the light on the front coming on was different, but I strategized on the replacement. I was considering everything from a multi-monitor “power box”, to the bare bones basic. I wanted a desktop system as I’m not happy doing SketchUp on a laptop (and I do enough of it to matter), but I was also interested in sticking around an $800 price tag. Looking at the big 22” monitor systems, I saw that I could spend $1200 and more. Ouch.

imageIn the end, I dropped by Costco, looked for machines without monitors (I already have a 20” model that works fine), and got a quad-core, 4 GB model with a1Tb disk drive for under $500. It’ll do the job of replacing the machine I have now just fine and I’ll still flinch when that credit card bill arrives. I would have liked more memory but I can’t say that I need it.

I set it up today and that went easily enough: plugged in the power cord, removed the monitor/mouse/keyboard/speakers/Ethernet from my old machine, plugged them into the new system, and fired it up. And everything went swimmingly.

I was surprised at how much crud and extra programs they install: use our security software (they partner with Norton), use our photo software (Snapfish), use the HP Music Player, have links to ebay and our consumer site on your desktop, play these gajillion games! Just a ton of stuff I’ll never use. I am slightly humored that the review on PC Magazine site (link above) sites “bloatware” as a negative against the machine. I agree.

Considering I was just bringing a new system online, I did opt to install/use the Norton software … once the 6 month trial period is over, I’ll likely go back to McAfee. We’ll see.

Anyhow, I installed 52 system updates (ugh) but now I’m back up and running! Before turning on the new system, I scoped it out for hard drive expansion (two bays available) and stated thinking about pulling over the data from my old machine. Somewhat wistfully I pushed the power button on the old machine and froze as it whirred into life.


(that last acronym is not a polite phrase, mother … please don’t ask!)

But, that’s the only expression that came to mind. After being annoyed during the week, spending a bunch of money, and setting up a new system, I realize it was all for nothing?!!? And why didn’t it respond previously? What’s going on here?!

Well, I’m positive Suzanne will tell me just to keep the new system, salvage what we can from the old, and donate the box to whatever charity or individual wants it. The new machine is completely silent and would keep me from worrying about a sudden failure in the future. And I’m leaning that way, too. But talk about confusing.

Time for me to get back to setting up this system and enjoying my weekend. More on (or is that “moron”) this issue later, I’m sure.


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